Category Archives: gluten-free

Anya’s Famous Fruit Salad – My 6 year old Guest Blogger

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Our guest blogger for this post is my 6 year-old daughter. She loves to make fruit salads and has become quite good at it! She says her salad is “Famous, but it’s not really famous”. My son worked as the photographer and did a wonderful job. Thanks to both of them for helping out!

Salads are a great way to get the kids in the kitchen and involved with cooking. They can learn to prep veggies and fruits (great for you later when they can serve as sous chef!), how to use a knife safely, wash foods properly and learn math (fractions, multiplication and division). My daughter is very artistic and enjoys making food look pretty by arranging things just so on the perfect dish. Both of my kids love to help out with any cooking. They like to try the foods that they are working with which broadens their food choices. While making this salad, we taste-tested pomegranate seeds, pomegranate vinegar and pomegranate molasses while I was teaching them how to open up a pomegranate. Of course, you can sub whatever fruits you like in this dish. But try to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce or reintroduce foods that your kids say they don’t like… you never know if they will change their minds! The more variety we eat, the more nutrients we get. But don’t tell them that, just say it tastes good!

Anya’s Famous Fruit Salad 

3 clementine or mandarin oranges
1 banana
1 apple
1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp liquid sweetener of choice (agave, maple, optional)

Peel the oranges and divide the segments. Add to a plate or bowl.

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Cut the apple and banana into bite size pieces. Add to the plate or bowl.

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Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and sweetener (agave or maple syrup, etc.). Eat.

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Quick and Healthy Lentil & Veggie Salad (and How to Cook Brown Lentils)

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Hello! Continuing on with the Salad Project theme, here is a quick recipe that features those lowly brown lentils. I feel almost guilty blogging about such an easy recipe! However, I love this salad and lentils in particular: they are tasty, extremely healthy and the dry beans last a long time in the pantry. They cook quickly (no need for a pressure cooker or pre-soaking) and are very economical. I bought a huge bag of them at my local Middle Eastern market last week. I have been craving lentil soup lately so made a two-for-one batch of lentils. If you cook 1 1/2 cups dried lentils you will get approximately 5 cups of cooked lentils! Eat ’em, freeze ’em, share ’em… I will post the soup recipe later this week. BTW, sorry for the terrible photo! It was nearly impossible to get anything good with this winter lighting. We have summer weather but winter sun.

I have been making a variation of this Lentil Salad for at least 15 years. I think people are surprised that a bean salad can be so good. Maybe they are expecting a typical American-style salad with heavy dressing. If you add a bunch of veggies chopped up or shredded finely, it makes for a lighter salad. The addition of a citrus or other fruit lightens it up too but isn’t necessary. Of course, you can add any veggies or fruits that you like or have on hand. Today was the first time I have used cabbage but it turned out great. I even got a thumbs up from my 6-year-old! This would be a great side salad to a burger, piled on top of a lettuce salad or a potluck dish at a barbecue. Serve at room temp or chilled.

Quick and Healthy Lentil & Veggie Salad (Serves 4)

2 cups brown lentils (cooked but not mushy) (see notes below on cooking lentils)
1 cup cabbage, finely chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
1/2 cup parsley, leaves chopped finely
2 green onions, finely chopped
4 radishes, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp salt, or to taste

Combine the lentils and veggies in a bowl. Pour over the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar and salt. Stir well, then taste for seasoning. You are done!

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Bonus recipe: How to Cook Whole Brown Lentils (or other small whole lentils)

As I said above, dry lentils expand a lot once they are cooked. If you cook too much for your meal, just freeze them. Wash about 1 cup of lentils in a medium-sized sauce pan, rinsing a few times and removing the floaters. Sometimes there may be little clods of dirt or stones. Do a quick pick-through to make sure you get all debris out. I rarely find anything but once I missed a rock and thankfully I was the one to find it!

The total cooking time will depend on how tender you want the final product. For salads, cook until just done but not split open or mushy. For soups or lentil loaf or burgers, you may want to cook them longer. I cooked lentils for a few years before I realized that I didn’t have to cook them to a mush (I was always making soup, so it didn’t matter). But the difference between just cooked and mush is a world apart. Once you are debris-free and well-rinsed, add at least three times as much water as lentils to cover. Place on medium-high heat and cover. Bring it to a boil. Do not add salt! Now you can continue using the fast method or the slower method:

Fast method – once the pot comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer with the lid on for approximately 25 minutes (less if using smaller lentils). Check for the water level after about 15 minutes, you may need to add more water. Remove from heat when the lentils are cooked to the desired tenderness and drain the excess water.

Slower method – once the pot comes to a boil, turn off the heat and keep the lid on. Let it sit for 1/2 hour up to a couple of hours. When you are ready to move on, drain the water (notice how much they have plumped up), taste a lentil for tenderness and cover the lentils with more water (twice a much water as lentils). Return to the stove, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook to desired tenderness. This cooking time will depend on how long you let them soak earlier (and how old your beans are, etc.). Remove from the heat and drain excess water. (I drain the initial soaking water to get rid of some of the scum and gas-making compounds – but it isn’t necessary.)

Enjoy!

Roasted Golden Beets & ArugulaWalnut Pesto Salad

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Hello! Welcome to The Salad Project! Our weather is unseasonably warm here in S. California so I’m having a burst of summer-type salads. I actually harvested a fresh red tomato from my garden today. I was not too hopeful about the taste since the texture seemed extra-firm. But what an explosion of summer flavor! It’s unexpected but appreciated!

Today I roasted some small golden beets with olive oil and salt. They came out of the oven crispy but soft – perfect for a salad! I also had a bag of arugula on hand from Trader Joe’s. I don’t often buy bagged greens but I haven’t made it to the Farmers’ Market in a few weeks. If you have never tried arugula, please do asap! It’s a slightly peppery green that is perfect in salads, cooked with pasta or made into pesto.  You can throw it into some soup at the end of cooking for a burst of pretty green color. I think it’s perfect for pesto because it is so flavorful but also holds its bright green color. I sometimes add some fresh spinach too, just to amp up the nutrients. Today I made a batch of arugula pesto that I used for my dressing. Instead of my usual sunflower seeds, I added chopped walnuts and used walnut oil in place of olive oil. The combination of walnuts and arugula is fantastic! You just have to try it! I have about 1 cup left of this yummy sauce. The rest will be used with pasta salad tomorrow or maybe on sandwiches or in lasagna…Love, love, love pesto!

Roasted Golden Beets & Arugula Walnut Pesto Salad (Serves 2-4)

For the Roasted Beets:

5 small or 3 large Golden Beets (or other beets)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400F. Use about 1 tbsp of oil to coat a baking sheet. Set aside. Wash the beets thoroughly and trim any leaves. Cut in quarters or eighths, depending on size, and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle the remaining oil over the beets, coating all sides. Sprinkle the salt over the beets and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then if they aren’t soft enough, cover with foil and bake for 10 more minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Now make the Arugula Walnut Pesto:

2 packed cups arugula leaves, washed
1 – 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 to 1 cup of walnut oil

Place arugula, garlic, salt and walnuts in a blender in that order. Pour in 1/4 cup of oil and turn on to blend. As it’s blending, slowly add more oil through the top (or stop the blender and add a bit of oil at a time) and continue to blend until the mixture flows freely and loosely in the blender. This is the best way I can think of to explain this! 🙂 The pesto will be a smooth, thick sauce (rather than the usual chunky pesto though you can leave it chunky if you like). Here’s a close up of the pesto (not the greatest shot – the sun is so low that it makes winter photography almost impossible!):

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Assemble the salad:

1 cup of cooked quinoa
1/4 of a lemon
2 cups of arugula leaves, washed and dry
2 pinches salt
black pepper to taste
2 tbsp walnuts, chopped
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Squeeze the lemon over the quinoa and mix well. Divide the arugula leaves amongst your plates and top with divided quinoa. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and black pepper over each salad. Divide the beets over each salad and top with a few walnuts. Now drizzle the pesto over each salad to taste. Enjoy!

Southwest-style Salad with Spicy Cilantro Dressing

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Hello! Welcome to my salad project! Today I made a salad with kidney beans and red cabbage. I feel like I kind of cheated since I had some leftover kidney beans in the fridge… however, it’s a great way to use what you have on hand. You just have to think of what to add to enhance the items that you are trying to pull together. So today it’s southwestern flavors – serranos, cilantro, jicama, bell pepper. Lots of veggies to keep us full and nourished.

If you have never tried jicama before, you should buy one and give it a whirl. They are a bit sweet, crunchy and starchy. They are great in winter salads to replace cucumbers for some crunch. You can dice them and throw into salads or cut them in batons / sticks and dip them in something good like hummus. I may try to bake them… hmm. I’ll let you know how that works out. I hope you enjoy this version of the southwest salad. It’s super easy and of course you can sub out / in any ingredients you like.

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For the dressing:

1 cup or big handful of cilantro (with soft stems – remove any hard stems)
1 – 2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 serrano pepper
1 tbsp. vinegar
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Seriously, don’t remove the cilantro stems. They have so much taste, just get rid of any that aren’t soft. With the serrano, I use the entire pepper (without the stem), ribs, seeds and all. If you want less heat, remove the seeds and ribs. Whiz in the blender until smooth. Add more salt to taste. Set aside.

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For the salad:

2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 cup red kidney beans (cooked!)
1/2 cup jicama, peeled and chopped
3 or 4 radishes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/2 avocado, sliced (sprinkle with the lemon/lime juice below to keep it from turning brown)
1/4 of a lemon or lime or 1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. sunflower seeds
salt and pepper to taste
tortilla chips for garnishing (optional)

Mix the lettuce and cabbage together, making sure all water is drained thoroughly. Divide between two plates or bowls. Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt and pepper over each serving (optional). Top with the remaining ingredients. Serve with the Spicy Cilantro Dressing. Enjoy!

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Delicata Squash, Quinoa and Kale Salad

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Hello! Welcome to my first salad post of hopefully a year-long project. I shall do my best to complete this task successfully!

I had a sweet little Delicata Squash in the refrigerator that I’ve been waiting to showcase. They are a beautiful variety of winter squash, but any winter squash will work in this recipe. The chunks of roasted squash are tossed on top of the salad so they have distinct texture and flavor. The Orange Maple Dressing is kicked up a bit with the addition of cayenne pepper. The combination is wonderful for a winter meal.

As with any salad, you can add to it as you wish. My recipe lists what I actually used, but I always encourage you to add or take away as you like. No use suffering through eating pears if you really don’t like them. If you don’t have kale on hand, then sub in some bok choy or spinach. These recipes are just a stepping off point so mix it up as you please!

Delicata Squash, Quinoa and Kale Salad with Orange Maple Dressing

Makes 2 Entrée Servings or 4 Sides

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups hot water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup kale, washed and shredded
1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa (wet) and allow to toast for about 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Once the water evaporates and the quinoa starts to toast, add the water and the salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the grains are plump and soft (but not mushy). Add more water if necessary – you can drain off any leftover water. When it is fully cooked, drain off any excess water. Stir in the kale, vinegar and oil and set aside to cool. (Yes, the kale should wilt a bit in the heat of the quinoa but not be totally cooked.) Now it’s time to prepare the squash:

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1 Delicata Squash, Acorn Squash or other Winter Squash
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Preheat your oven to 450F . Wash the squash under running water, remove any stickers and cut into bite-sized pieces. The skin can be eaten, but if you don’t like this, you may peel it before cutting. But why make extra work? Place the squash pieces on a lightly oiled baking sheet, then sprinkle with the olive oil and salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, turning the pieces over after 7 minutes. Just keep an eye on it since all ovens bake differently (really!). You want a nice browning on the edges but not burning and the squash should be just cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. While this is baking, start cutting up the rest of the veggies:

1 pear, washed and cored
1 cucumber, washed and seeded
1 carrot, washed
Pumpkin seeds or other seeds

Cut up the pear, cucumber and carrot into bite sized pieces. Set aside. Now make the dressing:

2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
2 tsp. minced parsley
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or shake in a capped bottle. It won’t emulsify, so just stir or shake before using.

To compose the salad:

The quinoa and squash should be at room temp. Divide the quinoa amongst your plates, making a mound. Then flatten the mound down a bit. Top off with the squash pieces, the cut up veggies and seeds. I don’t stir everything together in one bowl because the squash will probably turn to mush. Plus, it looks nicer! Stir or shake your dressing and pour over the salad to taste. Enjoy!